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Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulchri Hierosolymitani


Homily of Edwin Cardinal O’Brien
at the Pilgrimage Solemn Closing Mass and Investiture
Basilica of St.Paul Outside-the-Walls

Sunday 15 September 2013


We return to this Basilica, the place where the earthly remains of St. Paul are buried, to thank the Lord for our Catholic Faith and for all the blessings of this Pilgrimage.  We thank the Lord as well for this Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and for all you continue to do to serve the needs of all God’s people in the Holy Land.

How fitting it is, therefore, that we celebrate our vitality and growth by welcoming a total of 34 Knights and Dames into our Order: 9 from the Brazilian Lieutenancy and 25 from the French Lieutenancy.

My brothers and sisters we have just heard what many scholars believe is the finest piece of literature in all the Scriptures -  a self-centered son who goes off to a land of noble-sounding names:  self-fulfillment, personal independence, freedom of choice.  In this far off land he squanders everything – not only his financial resources but much more – his family name, his reputation, his dignity.  Nothing left – virtually dead.

In forgiving him so lavishly, the merciful father gives him new life.

This moving and timeless story telling us of a Prodigal Son and a Clement Father, sounds as charming and interesting nowadays as it did when Jesus narrated it for the first time.  And this is a story that certainly  reflected and recurred both in our personal lives and in those of everyone else near us.

(In italian on  the original document: Questa storia commovente e senza tempo che narra di un Figliol  Prodigo e di un Padre Clemente, risulta altrettanto avvincente e interessante ai giorni nostri che quando Gesù la raccontò per la prima volta.  Ed è una storia che certamente ha avuto dei riflessi e si è ripetuta sia nella nostra vita personale che in quella di tutti coloro che ci circondano).

As members of this Papal Order we celebrate a Son who took upon himself the sins of every people of every time and place.  Three days in the tomb and he too experienced the lavish love of a merciful father who raised him from the dead and gave him new life.

And that is where you come in, Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre.  Surely, you are sworn, solemnly, to defend and support the Sacred Places where Jesus walked and to promote the freedom of our Christian brothers and sisters, whose numbers are diminishing, to practice their Faith openly and without persecution.

Blessed John Paul II spoke of the Equestrian Order as an “Honor Guard” for the care of Our Lord’s Holy Sepulchre.  Figuratively speaking each of you stands at that sacred site and echoes the words of the angel, “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified:  he has risen, he is not here.”

Every time we refer to an empty tomb, we have to proclaim a Risen Christ too, reviving his Church, especially through the Eucharist. (In spanish on the original document: En el momento en el que nos referimos a una tumba vacia, tenemos también proclamar un Cristo resuscitado, infundendo su Iglesia, especialmente a través de la Eucaristía. 

As faithful members of our Order your whole life must be a proclamation that the Holy Sepulchre is empty.  He is risen and alive, not only in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, but alive here and now.  This very day and in this very place He lives, strengthening us through the power of His Spirit, dwelling in us through Faith, filling us with the fullness of God.

As we congratulate our newest members we thank them for helping the rest of us remember the source of our call to personal holiness – the Holy Sepulchre is empty, because Jesus Christ is alive in our hearts and in our works of love for all, especially those in the Land where He once walked.


Gran Magistero dell'O.E.S.S.G.(c)
00120 - Città del Vaticano
Tel. 39 - 06 - 6877347
Fax 39 - 06 - 6877632